With an upcoming performance at our monthly gig series - Tea + a gig - for parents and their little ones, singer songwriter Samantha Whates talks to us about her earliest memories of singing, the highlights of her performing career so far and some inspiring musicians she recommends we check out.
Tell us about yourself
I am a Scottish Singer & Songwriter who has been living in London for 17 years. I have been singing for as long as I can remember, my earliest memory of singing was in a music class when I was 5 or 6. I remember the feeling that my heart might burst from my chest with the pure joy of it and I've never looked back! I started writing my own songs in my early 20s using a hand me down guitar my brother gave me. I used writing as a way to connect with my experiences; to try and turn them into something positive and hopeful and to help try and find a way to understand them.
I have be playing on the London and UK circuit for around 10 years starting with open mics and building up to bigger venues and festivals including the Union Chapel, Royal Festival Hall, Green Man etc...
I am currently recording my 2nd album which is being recorded on location in Waiting Rooms around the country.
We love the film you created with William Powers and Joseph Eckworth for Trees and Gold? It has a real melancholic quality. How did the collaboration come about and what can you tell us about the story?
My collaboration with Will & Joe started around the time of the release of my first album - Dark Nights Made for Brighter Days. I was volunteering at The East End Film Festival and Joe was on my team and we became friends and started chatting about what we did in our day jobs - He was finishing a degree at LCC and was working with his friend Will on stop motion animation projects. After the EEFF finished we remained friends and he started coming along to gigs and offered to make a video for Village Kids from the first record. I was SO happy with the work they did and after some recognition at film festivals we decided to do a second video for my next release and it was as beautiful and was also well received! I am hoping we will make a third video for my new album and make it a hat trick!
You will be performing in The Old Church – the only remaining Elizabethan church in London – and you performed earlier this year at the Union Chapel with Chaps Choir. How do you find playing in a church setting?
It feels like such a special opportunity and privilege to be able to sing original and non religious music in these beautiful buildings with such incredible history. These buildings are too beautiful not to be filled with people and music of any religious backgrounds and preferences. I have been very lucky to sing in lots of beautiful churches in London, around the UK and Europe. Some of those times have been with the brilliant Chaps Choir. It always feels like such a connective moment singing in a church - you can't quite get the same feeling anywhere else. The big reverb and the light coming in through stained glass. It's so special and calm.
What has been the highlight performance of your career?
I can think of 2 and both were in churches! :)
The one I'll mention is the Union Chapel a couple of years ago almost- which was for the release of mine & Chaps Choir charity single - 'Anyone who Knows what Love is (Will Understand). It was sold out and filled with love, joy, music, hope and a 60 strong male choir!!!!
How did you come to know about SoundsCreative Projects?
I am very lucky to find myself in a beautiful and creative community of artists. We love keeping each other involved in each others projects and endeavours and supporting each other with encouragement, presence and collaboration. I work with Rhia Parker and her incredible recorder duo Gold Vox and it has been through her I have been introduced to the world of SoundsCreative. What a gorgeous, intelligent and creative force!
What do you think of the Tea + a Gig concept?
Bringing music to new audiences in new ways is something that is so interesting to me. Very often, as singer songwriters we find ourselves in the same circuits doing the rounds in the same venues playing to a similar demographic. I am very interested in taking music out of the normal places and exploring the energy of new rooms and new audiences. Letting people of all ages be a part of original music and engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds to see where the music takes us and how it makes us feel together and tea at the same time....WINNER.
At SCP we believe in connections. Can you connect us to 3 great artists we should know about?
Well I think you know about a few of the people I love dearly - Magic Lantern & Pat Dam Smyth & Gold Vox so I'll try a few I don't know if you know...
Josienne Clarke -( you may know her as the award winning folk duo, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker)With one of my fav voices she can write songs you feel like you've known forever. I am lucky enough to share a stage with this strong, intelligent, talented artist in our duo Pica Pica and she also has recently released and EP with another crazy talented musician - Kit Downes.
Ida Wenoe - Danish Noir Folk - Ida is one of my favourite humans and her music stops me in my tracks. As a live performer it is like a white light with all the spectrums of a prism piercing through. You have to hear her to understand!
Garance Louis - Accordion/Guitar/Keyboard/Singing - she has it all. She once went away to the circus for a while. She often looks like she's no idea what she's doing but she knows exactly what she's doing. I'm always inspired by how Garance creates a musical world. She moves me and makes me laugh. It's intelligent but wild and wacky! She is one of London's favourite buskers - you'll often see her on Columbia Road or Broadway Market working hard with Adam Beattie and Brooke Sharkey et al. ( mentioned a load more that 3 people... SORRY!